Rawia Bishara, a Palestinian-Arab chef, opened Tanoreen in 1998—a 10 table restaurant in the Bay Ridge area of Brooklyn. Now, in a new location, the restaurant is now a little larger, has received many accolades, and Bishara has written a cookbook, Olives, Lemons, and Za’atar.
A cozy space, with pumpkin-colored walls and low lights, Tanoreen is inviting and keeps the focus on the food. As you walk through the restaurant, tables are filled with a bounty of plates because here, it’s difficult to simply order one thing. I was fortunate enough to have dinner at Tanoreen recently.
Here’s what my friend and I had… We started with drinks…of course and were brought a small plate of pickled vegetables to nibble on. The Figtini Martini was divine (ok, I had two of them)—a pretty pink color, it was a little sweet without being overdone. A sliver of fig garnished the drink. Fatoush, made with lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, parsley mint, pita pieces and sumac dressing,(sm $8, lg $12) was fresh and light, the greens as though they’d been recently picked. My favorite of the night, though, was the Mhammara, which is a spread made of red bell peppers, walnuts, and pomegranate molasses, ($9). I’d never had this before and am now obsessed. It’s a similar consistency to pesto with its ground vegetables and walnuts. The roasted red bell pepper gave the dish a savory appeal while the pomegranate molasses lent it some sweetness. It was hard to stop eating this to save room for the rest…
We also ordered the Eggplant Napoleon–layered breaded eggplant with baba ghanouge, and served with tomato/basil salata. ($10)–was a lovely complement of textures and tastes. The breaded, fried eggplant with the smoky baba ghanouge was a feast for all senses—it was beautifully plated and on point. I always get Halloumi cheese (($12), and Tanoreen’s was fresh and firm, served with cucumbers, tomatoes, and olives in traditional fashion. For dessert, the special of the day, a date and walnut cake which was lightly sweet and delicious ($8) and Sahlab, a flavored custard with pistachios and rosewater syrup ($8)—we winded up mixing the two and were quite happy with the combination.
Tanoreen has the best Middle Eastern food I’ve had to date. The service was good, the place was comfortable, and the food was the star, as it should be. I could tell that the ingredients were fresh and prepared with a balanced hand. The recipes, as Bishara notes on her website, were passed down in her family, and that is evident in how beautiful and tasty everything is. The food here tastes homemade, family-made, and we are lucky enough to have it shared with us.
7523 3rd Ave.
Brooklyn, NY 11209